The Road goes eL'er on and on.


R. R.Tolkien

There are roads in life that dead-end, roads where the limits of the possible in love and work are soon exhausted, and there are roads where life seems inexhaustible, roads that go ever on and on. This last is the title and the theme song of a song cycle by Tolkien, Tbe Road Goes Euer Oz.l What is it that enables a road to go on and not dead-end? We love with a love we do not know, I believe, a love we do not fully understand, and so we live a life we do not fully understand, and when we realize this, we find ourselves on a road that goes ever on and on into the unknown. I think of an old man I heard of recently who loved books and who lived in a motel room surrounded by thousands of books he had collected, hoping to give them to a small town that had no public library. An earthquake came and all his books fell on him, and firefighters digging through the books saw his foot under the tumble. When he was carried to a hospital and came to consciousness, he asked for a glass of orange juice and a book to read.2 When I saw his face in photographs, the very gentle face of an eighty-seven-year-old man, I thought of the words tn Sbadowlands, the screenplay about C. S.

r. acremove myself at times.. that keeps the relationshii ebbing and flowing and gives us the .f |nowing and loving. a near and far.rg of the . [d ilorg the road by an elusive light.".o* ebbs and flows. . an intimacy in distance. I had just read something Einstein said a month beforeie died. of unknowing...a..rki.to know thrt *. that showi and withdraws and leads us or. tide. ... he said "However that may be.rrr.. Still. the mystery seems ro be showing itself. .. This came home to me as an insight one night after seeing Jean Vanier honored for his *ork with rhe irentally handicapped. and if listening ii a way of knowing that we are not alone.r. When he came to the lasr one he smiled .r-:|... i. and when our love is Jbirrg. Sp.a.. "I believe friendship is the highelt thing.T Those words seemed ..rg. I thought.... of being o. What counts in life.. of ff friendship..#rria. ... .ord that goes "ever on and on.r. And then the love is always there to draw me back again. the mystery seems to be withdrawing.'. I think of the love of music as well as the love of words. pieces.rrr".y. .iirio. "This one is called Inner Music for the piano...5 Heidegger says. not just cognition. the mystery of life. a distance in intimacy. if there were just distance.. to .2 I THE MUSIC OF TIME The Music of Time Lewis. perhaps an unfinished sonata. and the two events seemed to converge. . So we . the mystery. When our love is flowing. friendship with God. . if to say "joyful sorrowfur"). There is an ebb and flow.. There is an intimacy and a distance. r can see. inner music..rp.s comforting word stays with us: the asprration to rrurh is inore pre"iorl than its assured possession. friendship that is perhaps the very ebb and fl". or put the other way around... Lessing.a I wonder if terel..rr".. irr.I"firrd it much easier. ..That which shows itself and at the same time withdraws is the essential trait of whar we call rhe mystery. the light of mystery.o kro* that we are not arone.j The old man's love of booksis like all our love. music heard..rJ orr. is our relationship to the mystery.o -a .o.r. If there were just iitimacy. and we seem to be left in . . the road would dead_end. after spending the last years of his life in a vain search for an aiternative to the quantum theory. and there is a near and a fhr in our reiationship with one another. . Reaiiring he had not suc_ ceeded. the withdrawing evokes our longing and causes dre flowing to begin all over again." (I learned afterwards that he does indeed have a composition called *Five Piano-Pieces. but the ebb and flow of our inner life of knowing arrd lorri. of making o. the longing in the deep loneliness of the hulnan .o i. The un_ known. f... I think also of friendship and of something Helen Luke once said. "We read to know that we are not alone..r. . There is an ebb and flow ot. and we seem to be knowing. if we do not ircrude the love of God. in our relation with the unknown in life. but then the love of iod too can take the f... a friend of mine l*o..disappear. our loving and our knowing ebbs and flows. it seems. shows itself and withdraws in words and in music and in friendship.. I had a dream once in which I heard Schubert plry fir". darkn"r. are not alone. .orrr.' longing to be unalon. the highest of all our loves I think she meant. an inner time that resona. somewhere P?llr.6 The day before I had attended a childrenis piano recital. *ih music.. not just emodon. I wonder if making music is a way of being unalone.r". and even in our relationship with God. Denmd the distance that separates me from that handful of people whom I do care about deeply."f .. convinced as he was that "God does not play dice. ancl the fifth piece has the unusual-tempo marl<tngAllegyo pntetico..r. the longing'. a music i..

"12 as SainrJohn of the Cross calls it in his Dark l\ight of the Soul. "Our relation to our fellow human beings is that of prayer. -ry .. at times unu. Thinking back. orr"r times a process of "deconstruction. of unraveling human constructs.the clourl of unknoriing in the which a soul is oned with God.. as in "fundamentalism" now arisen in the .e a face that is our own.. If we unlearn all we thinkwe know of God and of ourselves. So here againl find the longing thar seems to pervade all our love. and it is by passing through a dark night of unknowing that we come to loving and to knowing that comes of loving. If we remain open to the *yr.... has become i.seen at the bottom of a deep well.the road of the union of love with God. open the shape of a myrtery that ... on the other hand."r0 I learned the forrnuia . we can see the face at the bottom of the weli as a face also of God... Unknowing.. and we take reality in by "coming back.. The aspiration to truth is more precious because it is a relationship of love. andenken as Heidegger called it. . I call it...."rr When I read the words of others and let thern speak ro my hearr. and when I asked her what it meant ro her. We go our ro realiry by.THE MUSIC OF TIME name what I was learning from listening to the children.8 By unknowing all t-ttrir-. .iun_ I"&:When learning. If there is a road rhat does not dead-end. It is an unknowing that is at times willing. Knowing takes realiry in. the ionging "to know that we are not alone. The Music of Tirne I 5 knowing that comes of unknowing is the negativ. as if God were speaking to my heart through the words of another and I were communing with God."i posses_ sion is a relationship pervaded by illusion. Thinking back is like breathing in...rr." If we follow the longing and let it lead us our into a realiry that is greater than ourseives. .o-"thirrg like .y.o-". dropping our preconceived notions. But when ir comes to a realiqy greater than ourselves.. If the trrth trke. to new insight into our own iives. we cannot take it in except insofar as it is already there in us. dropping all my freconceived notions of God and of myself. as if to say.God dwells in you as you" from a Hindu friend. Knowing that comes of loving is the affirmative way. ancl to knowing that comes of loving.I in thee. *y sister says. and thinking 1t forward is like breathing out.. *" i" left with ourselves.shows itself and at rhe same time withdraws. o? loving. Unknowing is a process of thinkin[ back through time and memory. but do not go out in love to the reality that is grearer t-han ourselrr.God dwells in you as you. can become a desffuctive process.. we find ourselves on a road that does not dead-end but goes eyer on and on." as Kaf-tr<a says.rlou in me.. when it is separated from knowing that comes of loving..s recital and then listening toJean vanier's stories of the mentally handicapped. We find ourselves on a road that dead_ ends in a"face.. or even to our own reality equal to ourselves. while loving goes our to realiry.. ourselves. I enter into something like prayer where "heart speaks to heart.o f say "unknowing. We seem ro be in the midst of a dark night of unknowing in our times. while th. however. as in "deconstruction.our relation to ourselves that of striving..t t know of God and of myself. the knowing that . it is . I open the *ry to knowing that comes of loving.passing over.. ." our highest relationship with the truth is one of loving the truth and of knowing that comes of loving. enrering sympathetically into the lives and thoughts of others.f mean ...illing." I am thinking of .. to ourselves.r. quoting the Gospel of John..r. she told me it curs right through the deep loneliness that separates us from one another. arises in an equal and opposite process of thinking forward into a realiry that is gr"atei thr.

a growing vision. we find ourselves already on "the roird of the union of love with God. and every path was its tributary. but a union of loving and knowing. "He usecl often to say drere was ouly onc Rorrd. we want to exist. the Presence (the Shekinah). I see "passing over" in the flow of communication and "coming back" in the ebb of solitude. "Where do you come from?" And thinking fbrward. then." The union or reunion. Thinking back. the thought of God creating the world by drawing back. even to be alone. "that it was like a grear river: irs springs were at every doorstep. to be separate. and yet we want "the union of love with God" and "to know that we are not alone. I think of the warning. And if love's road is the one that goes ever on."ra Maybe roads that dead-end really dead-end into the road that goes ever on and on." We want both the pleasures of solitude and the pleasures of communication. great religions East and West. So if the mystery "shows itself and at the same time withdraws." our heart's desire is not to forestall its withdrawal so much as to follow its elusive light. Words and music and friendship leave us alone and unalone. to be able to see behind and to see ahead. showing rne ro:rds that dead-end trnd roads that converge. ebbing like the tide and letting us and everything else exist but leaving everywhere the traces of the flow. is not a uniry of being."rr If we enter the night that love is only "the unknowing not only witl willingness but also with hope. "Where there is no vision."16 we can say "The mystery draws us ever on and on." .m as the Hasidim say. There is even a metaphor of creation in this ebb and flow. If I follow its light. and yet we want to be alone as well as "to know that we are not alone. we are asking ourselves the other great question that is asked there. the people perish. alone in the ebb that is solitude and unalone in the flow that is communication. zimzu." Tolkien has it in his trilogy. And of thinking forrvtrrd. it leads me forwirrd on rnany roads of hum'rn possibility'. we are able at iast to discover where we are now.6 I rHE MUsIC oF TIME The Music of Time I 7 it can seem in this dark will to love." and each time we pass over to others we take a step with one foot. We want both the ebb and the flow. to situate ourselves between two unknowns. and each time we come back again to ourselves we take a step with the other foot.ternal Feminine draws us on. We want both the ebb and the flow. I find it withdraws into my memory and into time past and takes me in thought all the way back to the beginning. knowledge of God and of ourselves is something that comes about on love's road. like tide poois flashing with light. Like Goethe saying "The E. we are asking ourselves the ques- though. as I rcalize the end of thinking back is really the beginning tion that is asked in the Gospel of John. like that of God before the creation. And that is vision."ts Let us see what vision we can come to by thinking back and thinking fbrward along love's road. "Where are you going?" Thinking on the road behind and the road ahead. catching up with ourselves. but then. leading into a road that goes ever on and on. even though it is only to become conscious of the unknown behind and the unknown ahead.

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